Just another CRAFT site

Tweeting Effectively: What’s Your Plan?

by CRAFT | Media / Digital

Twitter can be a powerful tool for sending messages or increasing consumer engagement with a brand—be it commercial or political. CRAFT lets you in on some of the basics of what you need to get the most out of your Twitter experience.

Twitter allows you to send messages with a limit of 140 characters. Tweets may include links, hashtags, or usernames of other Twitter users.  Due to the limited space allowed for each tweet, space must be used efficiently and thoughts must be articulated concisely—and there are many emerging schools of thought on what strategies for social media are most effective.

A study conducted by Buddy Media looked at 320 top brands between December of 2011 and February of 2012 and sought to discern what factors—such as length of tweet, number of hashtags, and times sent—led to the greatest engagement rate (rate of replies and retweets).

First, it turns out that people are more likely to engage with twitter while they are busy. The study found that tweets sent between 8AM and 7PM received 30 percent more engagement than those sent during non-working hours. If you’ve only been trying to reach people on Twitter while they’re relaxing at home—you’re missing out on the most engaged audiences. Don’t apply this thinking to your whole social media strategy—another study by the same group found that the opposite was true of Facebook.

If you try to cram as much information as possible into your tweets, you’re not going to get the desired effect. Researchers found that a tweet received 17% more viewer engagement when it consisted of 100 characters or less. Furthermore, shorter tweets allow room for a username and a link—which encourages retweets with comments. This is important if your goal is to encourage further engagement with your brand—link clicks accounted for 91 percent of user engagement with the big brand accounts.

As with length, less is more when it comes to hashtags. One or two thoughtful hashtags increased engagement by 21 percent but using more than two decreased engagement by 17 percent.

A hashtag is created by placing the # symbol before a word or spaceless phrase.  The information provided in a short hashtag allows Twitter to categorize tweets.  Anyone searching Twitter for a specific topic can access a stream of tweets with a unifying hashtag. This helps connect people who aren’t already following each other; for instance, during televised debates, event hashtags are used so Twitter users can see what everyone is thinking about the debate—not just what their friends think.

The recent Supreme Court decision on the health care law illustrates the way hashtags can be used to fuel discussion. Hashtags such as #SCOTUS, #Fullrepeal, and #Obamacare were simple and effective ways of spreading discussion. Leading up to and after the decision, these tags began trending and engendered thousands of conversations.

So how should hashtags be used to increase brand engagement?  Only use hashtags that are essential to the content—if it isn’t, leave it out. Additionally, a hashtag should be simple enough that the average user might be compelled to search for it. Don’t operate under the assumption that you must create your own catchy hashtag and hope it goes viral. “Everyone wants to have their own unique hashtag and fail to realize that the point of hashtags is consolidation and cross reference—i.e., everyone using the same tag rather than a plethora of editorialized words,” said Jerri Ann Henry, Director of Digital at JDA Frontline. If you find a place where people are already engaged in conversation using a certain hashtag, jump in!

If you are promoting a unique campaign or topic and want to create your own hashtag, the results can be incredibly rewarding. Be sure to do proper research and have a complete plan before executing a large scale Twitter campaign—the last thing you want is for your hashtag to be used against you (see #McDstories). Dominoes Pizza in the UK is one of many hashtag success stories—the company offered to take one cent off the price of its featured pizza for each tweet that included the hashtag #letsdolunch. This campaign led to over 80,000 retweets and many happy customers who got a discount on their lunch. On the political side, President Obama asked users to tweet about what $40.00 meant to them during the payroll tax debate. The Hashtag #40dollars generated over 85,000 tweets—many of them were from conservatives mocking the campaign, but it still proved effective at sparking a conversation.

Once you have the basics down, you can take your twitter strategy to the next level. Pictures are one way to improve engagement—big brand tweets that incorporate images receive double the engagement of those without. Services such as pic.twitter.comyfrog.com, instagr.am or twitpic.com can help host images while keeping links short.

What’s your social media plan? For more insight on best practices in social media, tweet @CraftDC or comment below. Read the full Buddy Media report here.